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Rescue operation begins to remove netting from dolphin calf

Jan. 30, 2024 - 11:05 By Lim Jae-seong
A photo shows Jongdari after 2 1/2 meters of net were removed from its tail. (Pink Hot Dolphins)

Efforts to remove fishing nets entangled on the tail of a dolphin calf are ongoing at Jeju Island, with the rescue team already successfully cutting off a part of the net.

The bottlenose dolphin, which has been named Jongdal, was spotted off the island’s southwestern coast more than two months ago with its body entangled in the net from beak to tail.

Seaweed attached to the net has been hampering Jongdal's movements, while the net itself is cutting into the body, according to the Jeju National University Dolphin Research Team.

Marine conservation activist group Hot Pink Dolphins, Jeju-based research institute Marine Animal Research and Conservation and the documentary team of "Dolphin Man" recently embarked on the joint rescue operation, Hot Pink Dolphins announced Monday.

The rescue team obtained permission to rescue the calf from the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries on Wednesday, after applying on Nov. 9.

With advice from experts, the team is using a long stick with a knife at the end to cut away the net, rather than attempting to capture the animal.

Net with seaweed that was removed from Jongdari's tail (Pink Hot Dolphins)

The team first made efforts to make the calf feel comfortable near the boat by continually approaching the dolphin for a week, then removed 2 1/2 meters of net with algae from its tail.

Thirty centimeters of netting still remains on the dolphin's tail, and additional strings have been observed along its body. The rescue team will continue the operation to remove all netting from Jongdal.

The calf is still subsisting on its mother's milk, but it appears to be weakening compared to when it was first spotted, showing an urgent need for rescue, the JNU research team said.

However, it is difficult to forecast exactly when the efforts can be completed as there are many variables in the operation, a Hot Pink Dolphins official told local media.